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He said. She said.

Dolph Smith & Allison Read Smith


May 14 - June 12, 2022 

(Opening reception May 14, Saturday 2-6 pm)

The Gallery at Dobbin Mews is pleased to invite you to a unique father/daughter exhibition from a pair of lifelong practicing artists, Dolph Smith (88) & Allison Read Smith (56). Both artists pull heavily from their Southern heritage, using humor, narrative, and seemingly simple forms and imagery to consider their overlapping lives from the different perspectives of gender, generations, and family roles. 


The Smiths share a wide range of imagery and symbolism, with ladders featuring heavily in both artists' work. Dolph sees them as optimistic and utilitarian objects used "whenever you need a lift up", and Allison uses them as cautionary and precarious objects representing balance and the challenges of projects and tasks. Maybe it is an extrovert vs. introvert perspective, but both artists value this object as a significant tool. 


The exhibition consists of Allison's signature metal sculptures and jewelry depicting everyday objects. ARS's use of ladders and chairs suggests introspection & considers the chairs are self-portraits. They are for sitting, waiting, reading, put in the corner, daydreaming… as well as empty chairs for those who are gone. The outlets and switches are considered more sculpture sketches and suggest the goofy and intense range of human emotions and communication. Every day and familiar objects lend believability and exaggerate the sometimes absurdity of being human. Other common objects are cinder blocks, tools, safety cones, etc. The bearskin rug and animation shorts are from a more extensive series of animals and objects sewn from roofing rubber.  


DS has generated an entire world called Tennarkippi (a mash-up of his heritage Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi) that, over his career, has become an entire universe. The stories of Jilly Barnes, a citizen of Tennarkippi, feature heavily in his narratives and handmade books. Jilly is endearing, from his far-fetched career schemes to his blushing crushes and failed loves. Over the decades of DS's career, his original paintings of barns in fields of Johnson grass turned into ships at sea that then sprouted wings to soar the blue Southern skies and eventually evolved into a paper airplane that explored space. The hero of Tennarkippi is a small paper airplane named Aslipa (as in 'a slip of' paper). Aslipa roams this fictitious universe of characters, innovation, learning, and longing over his lifetime… full of joy, tears, and awe.


He said: "We are fragile, but we can soar."

She said: "I agree."



Dolph Smith is a longtime educator, painter, and bookmaker from Memphis. He taught drawing and painting at Memphis College of Art for 30 years, and in the late 70s, he developed a hand papermaking and book arts program called the "Flying Vat." In 2004, He was awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at Memphis College of Art. 


Allison Smith is a versatile sculptor, bookmaker, painter, and jeweler. She is based in New York City and works as the director of exhibitions at the Gagosian Gallery. 

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